Wisdom, At Length: Cars, Cartoons, and Creativity

Each Sunday for five weeks, we’re sharing a collection of posts by writers on Substack. “Wisdom” is the final issue of a 5-part series.

This series, called At Length, will recommend pieces that we think are not only worth reading, but worth returning to again and again. Our goal is to shine a spotlight on emerging writers and introduce readers to more independent writers who are hiding in plain sight. Each week, we’ll pick a theme and surface a few posts that speak to that theme in a memorable way.

Have you read a post by a fellow Substack writer recently that you enjoyed? Let us know!

Our theme this week is Wisdom, At Length. The word “wisdom” calls to mind ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Confucius. As much as we can learn from the great minds of the past, there is still more to learn today, whether from great artists like Marvin Gaye and Edgar Allen Poe, or from the life experiences of those who love, grieve, survive, and succeed in the world and choose to share it. 

Thomas J Bevan

Bill Watterson and The Perfect Artistic Career

What is the lifespan of creativity? How can artists avoid letting success corrupt their work? Thomas J Bevan’s account of the career of Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson finds answers to these questions in his life, work, and philosophy. Read more.


The Car and The World

The car has long been a symbol of American freedom and exploration. But as cars have become commonplace, that freedom comes with its own constraints. Apex explores these freedoms and constraints, and wonders how a better balance might be found. Read more.

Nelson George

Two Conversations with Marvin Gaye

Nelson George revisits a series of interviews that he conducted with Marvin Gaye, as he tries to understand the honesty, conflict, and love in Gaye’s music and life. Read more.

Stephen Elliott

SELF HELP 15: How To Survive Failure

Author Stephen Elliott reflects on his past failures and successes, on how he learned to survive them, and the help that came when he first helped himself. Read more.

Helena Fitzgerald


There is always a tragedy in loving something mortal. Helena Fitzgerald describes the place where grief and love meet through her parents’ relationship, her own, and even the relationship between celebrities and the public. Read more.

Catherine Baab-Muguira

How to become a bestselling writer (or bestselling anything else)

Every artist struggles to create art that lasts. Taking wisdom from Edgar Allen Poe, Catherine Baab-Muguira outlines the process that made Poe resonate with both audiences new and old, and what writers today can learn from him. Read more.

This is issue #5 in a 5-part series. Read issue #1 “Making”, issue #2 “Retelling”, issue #3 “Desire”, and issue #4 “Marvels” here.